Fedweek

Highly-ranked agencies commonly tout their status in their public outreach, including for recruiting purposes, while lower-ranked ones often find themselves called to Congress to explain why. Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.com

The new version of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” report has familiar names at the top and bottom, although overall many agencies slipped in the index the Partnership for Public Service uses to create those rankings.

NASA now has a 10-year winning streak as the most desirable among large agencies, with a rating of 85.1 in the index, which is largely based on selected questions from the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Following in order among large agencies were HHS, Commerce, the intelligence community and VA.

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GAO topped the midsized agencies with an 89.8 percent score, followed by NSF, FERC, GSA and SEC. Among small agencies the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation with an 85.6 score was followed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Office of Special Counsel, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Surface Transportation Board.

The bottom three in each category were, in ascending order, DHS (also for the 10th consecutive year), Justice and SSA; NLRB, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, U.S. Agency for Global Media; and FEC, International Boundary and Water Commission and National Gallery of Art.

Highly-ranked agencies commonly tout their status in their public outreach, including for recruiting purposes, while lower-ranked ones often find themselves called to Congress to explain why.

The VA was the only large agency to improve its score over 2020—and by just two tenths of a point, from 70 to 70.2. While those agencies are just 17 of the 71 ranked, they account for the vast majority of federal employees.

On the plus side, “The U.S. Agency for Global Media improved by 11.7 points for a score of 64.7, the largest increase among midsize agencies, while the National Endowment for the Humanities was the most improved small agency in 2021, jumping from 25th to second place,” it said.

However, the FTC fell from second to 22nd place in the midsize rankings and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service dropped from 11th to 24th place, the largest drop among small agencies.

Working to drag down scores was a fall in a major component of those rankings, an “employee engagement and satisfaction score” which government-wide fell by 4.5 points to 64.5.

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“This downturn came as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt the federal workforce during the survey period in November and December 2021. During this time, tens of thousands of civil servants faced uncertainty about returning to the office after more than a year and a half working remotely part or full time, while a sizable portion of the workforce remained on the front lines performing critical public services as the health crisis persisted,” it said.

However, it added that the figure is 14.6 points below an engagement index from the Mercer employee research firm for the private sector, which “faced many of the same workplace issues as the government.”

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2022 Federal Employees Handbook